54-foot-span Paper Airplane Breaks Record!

Oct 03, 2013 7 Comments by

What do you get when you combine 500 bottles of glue, 753 square feet of paper and 200 bottles of superglue? A flight-worthy 54-foot-span paper airplane that’s breaks the world record! The 24-pound aircraft was launched off a 7.2-foot platform and flew for 54 feet, longer than the distance flown by the previous record holder. Because the 14-member team from the University of Technology in Braunschweig, Germany, could not fly the plane first to test it, they stress-tested various parts before final assembly.


Here’s the scoop from Germany’s “The Local:”

According to the rules of the Guinness World Records, a paper aircraft needs to fly at least 15 metres to qualify, so the engineering challenge was to build a craft as large as possible whilst still aerodynamic enough to fly the distance. The Braunschweig team’s plane not only surpassed that threshold with an 18-metre flight, it smashed the record for a paper plane’s wingspan.  With an 18-metre wingspan, it took the accolade off the previous record holders, the Delft University of Technology in Netherlands, by four metres. Their record was set in 1995.

The team, including nine university students, four members of staff and one school student, had been working on the record-breaking bid for months. They had a set-back in November, however, when the prototype’s wing snapped off before they could launch it.


The launch was a tense moment for the whole team: “We were all really excited and then suddenly broke into cheering,” said university spokesman Elisabeth Hoffmann.  Better still, for the team members, the record-breaking project counted towards their degrees: “In engineering degrees, students sit tests in which they have to build special structures out of paper and glue”, Hoffmann explained, calling the project “pure engineering excellence”.


Debra Cleghorn, Featured News

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Executive editor About me: I’m a publishing professional who has a passion for aviation and RC, and I love creating issues, books and a website that help RC pilots to enjoy this sport even more. I admire scale aircraft and enjoy the convenience of flying smaller electrics.

7 Responses to “54-foot-span Paper Airplane Breaks Record!”

  1. Fernand Deschenes 14651L m.a.a.c says:

    Je vout Fèlicite sa prent beaucoup de patience pour faire un gros project comme sa Je lève mon chapeaux Fernand 60 years in the hobby

  2. John Spoonamore says:

    Why no video?

  3. Manuel Acosta says:

    Even without video, amazing record and well deserved recognition!!!

    • AMA 850233 says:


      A hand launch by the burliest guy they had, it appears. But the elevated platform from which it was launched seems to make the distance record a tad overstated. It flies like a rock indoors. I think we have some kids in the AMA who could build one much lighter, with more dihedral and a single boom fuselage. Slide on some removable wing skids so it will make lots of landings. Lighter not crash withstand-able. Guiness record anyone?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MMSE1T0jjg shows it is aerodynamic.

  4. Gary says:

    Not to burst a bubble, because the construction of this plane is an extraordinary feat, but the glide ratio of this 24 pound aircraft is less than half of a 747. I feel that this isn’t a true fact but just a common mistake of flying an untrimmed or unbalanced aircraft. By looking at the photo it is clearly a controlled crash landing (somewhere around 15-20 degrees nose down?). If more care was taken doing CG calculations AND airfoil incidence settings I feel that a more than 20:1 glide ratio could have been achieved. They only flew the length of one wingspan…Orville and Wilbur wouldn’t have been impressed ;)

  5. Karl A Gabzdyl says:

    Would have loved more details. Great Job and the type of aviation article I love! Video would have been nice, but I would have loved to understand their design perimeters.


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